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Westwood soccer preps for unique season

While they didn’t have enough players for a full game, it was an impressive showing for a Sunday morning before a Patriots game.

By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter

Watch any sport in America and you will hear the commentators noting how fascinatingly different the game looks. But while the lack of fans in the crowd or the coaches wearing masks is certainly different, compared to how high school soccer is going to look, it’s essentially nothing.

At Thurston Middle School Sunday night, Westwood High captain Michael Giovino got a group of players together to work on their skills, get in better shape, and have some fun. While there, he talked a bit about the incredible amount of differences this season is bringing to both the schedule and the game itself.

“The season’s going to start with tryouts on September 26 and 27 this year, so that’s about a month later than normal. Other than that, our season got pushed to being all weekend games, so that’s going to be very different. In a normal high school season, usually you play, like, three different games a week against three different towns, but this year, we’re going to go home and away against the same town in a weekend - that way we don’t visit three different towns in the same week - and if something happens, it gives them more time to shut us down before we get to the next town. So, they’re doing that to minimize the impact of corona. They changed a lot of the rules of the game, too. There are no more throw-ins, kick-ins have to be played in below the knees, corner kicks have to be played outside of the box, we’re not allowed to do headers, and there's no shoulder-to-shoulder play, so any stealing is going to be a poke tackle or something like that. It’s going to be a very different season, mostly from how the game is played.”

Just from watching a little bit of the pickup game it became clear the shoulder-to-shoulder rule will be tough to enforce.

Giovino deserves tons of credit for the effort he's putting in. He noted these get-together are twice a week, saying: “We used to do them on Wednesdays, but now we’re doing twice a week, Wednesdays and Sundays. This whole summer we’ve been doing conditioning workouts, so we’re in really good shape this year.”

Two players jostle for the ball.

Sunday's edition gave a good insight into the team’s mindset. With an eleven o’clock start, there were numerous reasons to cancel the gathering. Waking a teenager before noon in the summer, especially on a Sunday morning, is very difficult. There was also the first Patriots game of the season at 1 p.m., so there was even more of an incentive to bail. And when the high school field was being used by a private soccer league, the excuse was handed to Giovino on a silver platter.

A defender is just a step slow to prevent the cross.

Instead, he herded everyone to Thurston Middle School’s field, led them in stretching, went shirts against skins, and started the work.

“I think it should be a good season," said Giovino. "No playoffs is tough, but we’re just looking to win games.”

With that kind of determination, it’s hard to think they won’t.

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